Oct 2020

26

Solving the recent "blank screen" issue with BrightPay's Quickbooks integration.

BrightPay is built on a technology called WPF, which is part of Microsoft’s very popular .NET Framework. For .NET development on Windows, WPF has been the first-choice framework for over a decade, and is still very much going strong.

From its beginnings, WPF has included the ability to display and interact with web-based content in a special user interface component called WebBrowser. BrightPay uses WebBrowser to display the “log in” web pages that are required for certain API integrations (e.g. when submitting pension contributions or posting payroll journals to certain providers). WebBrowser has worked well, but it has one aspect that is beginning to cause problems.

WebBrowser is based on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, which has an end-of-life support date of 21 August 2021, meaning that from then on it will no longer receive security updates. Apart from that, Internet Explorer lacks support for many modern technologies, and the web development community has been cheering on its deprecation for years.

In September 2020, BrightPay customers started to notice that our integration with QuickBooks (for posting payroll journals) is no longer working – the log in process results in a blank screen. This is happening because Intuit (the creators of Quickbooks) have dropped their support for Internet Explorer – they are now using technology that is simply too modern for Internet Explorer (and therefore's BrightPay's use of WebBrowser) to handle. In the coming months and years, one by one, many other cloud-based software providers will no doubt be doing the same.

So where does this leave BrightPay? Well, you might be aware that in 2015, Microsoft released the first version of their successor to Internet Explorer: the Edge browser. It wasn’t until 2019 that a WPF component for using Edge in Windows applications was made available. This component, called WebView, is not perfect, however, and comes with some technological shortcomings that made us decide to not adopt it right away.

Despite the shortcomings with WebView, when Intuit made their announcement that they would not support Internet Explorer anymore, we created a version of BrightPay that uses WebView and began testing it internally. But not long after, Intuit revised their announcement, confirming that they would not be supporting the Edge browser either. This left us in a bit of a quandary.

Earlier this year, Microsoft released a new version of Edge, based on the same technology that powers the Google Chrome browser. Although it has the same name as the Edge browser from 2015, it is completely different (and Intuit have confirmed that the new Edge will be supported by Quickbooks). Microsoft have also since announced that they will be releasing a component to allow WPF applications to use the new Edge browser, called WebView2, in Q4 2020. This is a much better component than WebView, with wider support, less restrictions and improved deployment. It’s the obvious solution to our Quickbooks problem, except that at the time of writing this, it’s still not available. But it will be soon enough.

And so, our only real choice is to wait until the WebView2 component is available. As soon as it is, we will prioritise its integration. When that's done, BrightPay customers who need to post journals to Quickbooks should no longer have any issues.

In the meantime, BrightPay version 20.6 contains the WebView component (based on the legacy Edge browser), as we have found that despite Intuit’s claim to not support legacy Edge, it seems to still work for posting journals to Quickbooks anyway. Hopefully, it will continue to do so until WebView2 is available.

Please note that to use WebView in BrightPay 20.6, you (i) must have Windows 10 version 1803 or higher and (ii) you must not run BrightPay in administrator mode. Otherwise, BrightPay will fall back to using the Internet Explorer-based WebBrowser, and the Quickbooks integration will not work. Also, to be able to support WebView (and in preparation for supporting WebView2), BrightPay now requires the .NET Framework version 4.7.2 or higher. If your computer does not already have this version, you will need to download and install it manually to be able to continue using BrightPay.

NOTE: BrightPay for Mac users are not affected by any of this.

Posted byRoss WebsterinCustomer UpdateSoftware Upgrade